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DJ Harrison pleads guilty in Kemmerer court

KEMMERER – Dereck James “DJ” Harrison, 23, avoided facing the death penalty by pleading guilty Monday to kidnapping and killing a Utah Transit worker near Kemmerer.

Harrison entered his plea during his arraignment in District Court in Kemmerer.

Harrison pleaded guilty to first-degree murder while undertaking a kidnapping and kidnapping in the May slaying of Kay Porter Ricks, 63, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty in exchange for Harrison’s guilty plea. Sentencing is scheduled for May 17.

Harrison already is serving at least 30 years in a Utah prison after pleading guilty last year to tying up a woman and her four daughters in a basement.

After that, he and his father, Flint Harrison snatched and killed Ricks while on the run from police, prosecutors said. They each turned themselves in to Sublette County law enforcement after hiding in a backcountry camp near Half Moon Lake.

His father owned a home in Pinedale. After he turned himself in, the son did as well, during a manhunt led by the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office, FBI and other state and county agencies.

Flint Harrison hung himself in the Davis County, Utah, jail where he and his son faced battery and kidnapping charges for the attacks on the women.

DJ Harrison was the sole suspect sentenced for the Utah attacks and for the violent death of Ricks as the pair fled Utah for Wyoming.

For more about Harrison, see Friday’s Pinedale Roundup.

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